Over the last few days, I have been doing my best to survey a variety of different news services and keep up on the unfolding events in Gaza and the Israeli invasion therein.
It is an invasion, right? I mean I realize I am not as close to it as I once was (traveled there several times years ago), but, as they say if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is a duck, correct?
I am not really taking sides on this one just yet, but it does strike me as surprising that this is not a bigger issue than it seems to be. Check that -- it is clearly the #1 news story pretty much everywhere and yet, it seems to me that it's being covered with a certain degree of detachment and indifference. That, of course, might be because Israel is not allowing foreign journalists into some of the conflict areas, in fact defying an Israeli supreme court order to do so.
Nevertheless here's the thing: Israel is currently in full scale war mode and the rest of the world appears pretty passive. And I am talking both sides. Israel's allies (like the US and various European nations) have been pretty idle, sure enough making statements and expressing concern but not really doing anything. Israel's many enemies have expressed rage, instigated protests etc., but have really not taken any meaningful action.
Hamas, no doubt, made a serious miscalculation it would appear with their antagonistic moves that triggered Israel's onslaught. Now they clearly lack the firepower to respond to Israel and instead will do what they do best, exploit the murder and mayhem in the Occupied territories to insure another generation of radicalized Islamists that will terrorize Jews in Israel and elsewhere for years to come.
And make no mistake, Israel's aggression in Gaza is its own brand of terrorism. At latest count, a reported 500 casualties with no end in sight with many of them innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. Blame it on Hamas for intentionally putting their own people in harms way (and that is an absolute shameful fact), but also accept the fact that at any given moment, Israel can call of the dogs and spare additional lives. That, of course, is just not the way they roll as they have deemed it acceptable that slaughtered children is okay.
And again, there is the matter of the rest of the world who seems to be sitting on the sidelines on this one. What really are Israel's intentions this time around? An invasion followed by a full scale occupation? Or just leveling Gaza and then pulling out? Perhaps I am the one who has not dug deep enough to uncover what's being said but it strikes me as odd that this remains unclear and the rest of the world is okay with that.
Yes, the US invaded Iraq years ago and pretty much leveled the country and then occupied it. Argue whether or not it was a just war, but let's be clear, there was a certain transparency about it. The Bush administration bothered to go through various protocols with its own congress (and got the okay) and the UN (and then defied their resistance) but it was pretty clear to the rest of the world what was going on. I mean that's generally what you have to do. After all there is only one planet and even if we all disagree on certain things, there is a definite reality that we share it.
Here's my problem with the whole thing. I get the fact that Israel may want to once and for all obliterate Hamas. They are annoying and dangerous but this strategy seems shortsighted and doomed. The larger problem is the fact that it's entirely unclear to me where this goes from here. Without the backing or frankly knowledge of the rest of the world, this thing runs the risk of becoming a much much greater conflict that will consume many others. Anyone ready to sign up for that?
I've never been one to really care for the notion of homelands or chosen people and all that. The great irony of course in this case is that both sides claim to be persecuted, declare themselves as God's favorites, and justify their violence as part of a greater struggle. Even more ironic is that they are both descended from the same stock -- after all Isaac and Ishmael were brothers, sons of Abraham, right? Sadly it seems if they were alive today, they'd be racing to slit the other one's neck and the rest of the world would simply shrug and watch. Apparently we haven't evolved that much.
Gotham Chopra regularly blogs at www.intent.com